The Nebraska Legislature opened on January 9 for the 103rd Legislature. Legislation was introduced during the first ten days. Since then, thanks to the generosity of our members in every corner of the state, we've reviewed all of the 655 pieces of legislation and eleven constitutional amendments.
Here's a summary of two bills we were pleased to see introduced and support and one we raised concerns about.
LB 99 – Law Enforcement Data Collection
Sen. Heath Mello of Omaha introduced a bill that would extend existing data collection requirements for local law enforcement officials. Specifically, this addresses law enforcement reporting the race/ethnicity of an individual when pulled over for a traffic violation. The ACLU's overall approach when it comes to the criminal justice system is to keep communities safe, treat people fairly, and save tax-payer dollars. The data collection provides some limited oversight to help achieve these goals. The bill was heard by the Judiciary Committee on January 23rd.
LB 58 – Social Network Privacy
Sen. Tyson Larson of O'Neill wants to protect your privacy in this digital age. He introduced a bill that would prohibit employers from asking for your Facebook password. When a person is forced to share the password to a private account, not only has that person's privacy been violated, but also the privacy of friends, family, clients, and anyone else with whom that person may have communicated or connected with online. The ACLU works around the country to update current law so it keeps pace with technology. We were pleased to support this bill. This bill was heard by the Business and Labor Committee on January 28th.
The ACLU also raised some 6th Amendment (fair trial) concerns about a bill impacting how business records are used in criminal cases. ACLU shared concerns about LB 151 – Business Records in Criminal Cases, introduced by Sen. Les Seiler of Hastings, with the Judiciary committee on January 25th. Sen. Seiler agreed to work on an amendment that would address the concerns.
A preview of what the ACLU is doing to protect your rights in the Legislature the week of February 4th: Senator Bill Avery of Lincoln introduced a bill which helps keep Nebraska government open. Senator Brad Ashford of Omaha has a bill aiming for a fair (and cost effective) juvenile justice system.